Durham residents are responding to the Syrian refugee crisis in unprecedented numbers. Neighbourhoods, faith groups and individuals are coming together and asking “how can we help?” We are expecting the first refugee families who arrive to be privately sponsored refugees but we can all participate in welcoming them! Here are some suggestions:
Get the facts! Learn more about the refugee process and the current crisis in Syria.
Privately Sponsor a Refugee
Get in touch with local groups to see how you can contribute.
1. Refugees: the facts
Each year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes to escape persecution, war or severe human rights abuses. Often these people can never return home.
According to the UN, there are almost 60 million people forcibly displaced globally, this is the highest number in decades. The majority are displaced because of conflicts in their home countries / regions.
Is there a difference between a refugee, an economic migrant and an asylum seeker? YES! For more information, visit the UNHCR website.
Over 50% of the Syrian population is currently displaced and are seeking asylum elsewhere (an estimated 11 million people). Many are internally displaced but as the civil war and incursions by ISIS increase, there are fewer safe places for people to live within Syria. For additional background to the Syrian crisis, visit Lifeline Syria.
Who are the Syrian refugees? The federal government has produced a very useful population profile to assist communities in welcoming Syrians locally, Population Profile: Syrian Refugees (PDF).
What kinds of support do refugees receive when they come to Canada? Government assisted refugees (sometimes called GARs) receive assistance from the federal government for the first year that they are in Canada. This assistance is equivalent to the level of social assistance provided in the province in which the refugees live. Refugees, like other newcomers to Canada, are also eligible to receive settlement services like community orientation, language assessments, language classes, job-seeking help and short-term/crisis counselling. For more information, visit the CIC website.
2. Privately Sponsored Refugees
Privately Sponsored Refugees are supported by the local groups who are sponsoring them. The sponsorship group is responsible for welcoming the refugee family at the airport, providing housing, clothing, furniture, financial assistance and emotional and social supports for one full year. This is a contractual agreement with the federal government. The sponsoring group must be screened, must prove that they have sufficient resources to support the individual refugee or family and must also provide a detailed settlement plan for how they will assist the refugee family settle and integrate into their new community.
The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program is THE resource for anyone interested in private sponsorship. The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) is a program designed to support the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) of Canada and their Constituent groups.
It is important to remember, that ALL refugees are eligible for settlement services. It is critically important that the sponsorship group get in touch with local settlement supports to ensure that the families and sponsors are getting the best help they can get as they settle. For more information, contact the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services.
For more information on the federal PSR program as well as how this differs from the program for government assisted refugees, visit the CIC website.
Additional resources are listed in the links section to the right.
3. Other ways to help
There are a number of groups across Durham Region who are organizing locally to bring refugee families to Durham. Many have submitted their paperwork and are waiting for families to arrive in the next few months. Other groups are at different phases in the process. All of the local private sponsorship groups (PDF) listed here are open to hearing from you.
The Durham Welcome Centres are the lead agencies in providing settlement supports to refugees and other newcomers to Durham Region. If you have any additional questions about how else you can help or get involved, visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a sponsor and would like information on settlement services, contact CDCD at Toll Free: 1-866-746-3696, Tel: 905-686-2661, Fax: 905-686-4157, Email: email@example.com.
If you would like to donate goods, time or money to the refugee crisis, contact CDCD at Toll Free: 1-866-746-3696, Tel: 905-686-2661, Fax: 905-686-4157, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.